Cervical laminoplasty: a critical review

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Object. The technique of cervical laminoplasty was developed to decompress the spinal canal in patients with multilevel anterior compression caused by ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament or cervical spondylosis. There is a paucity of data confirming its superiority to laminectomy with regard to neurological outcome, preserving spinal stability, preventing postlaminectomy kyphosis, and the development of the “postlaminectomy membrane.”

Methods. The authors conducted a metaanalysis of the English-language laminoplasty literature, assessing neurological outcome, change in range of motion (ROM), development of spinal deformity, and complications. Seventy-one series were reviewed, comprising more than 2000 patients.

All studies were retrospective, uncontrolled, nonrandomized case series. Forty-one series provided postoperative recovery rate data in which the Japanese Orthopaedic Association Scale was used for assessing myelopathy. The mean recovery rate was 55% (range 20–80%). The authors of 23 papers provided data on the percentage of patients improving (mean ∼80%). There was no difference in neurological outcome based on the different laminoplasty techniques or when laminoplasty was compared with laminectomy. There was postlaminoplasty worsening of cervical alignment in approximately 35% and with development of postoperative kyphosis in approximately 10% of patients who underwent long-term follow-up review. Cervical ROM decreased substantially after laminoplasty (mean decrease 50%, range 17–80%). The authors of studies with long-term follow up found that there was progressive loss of cervical ROM, and final ROM similar to that seen in patients who had undergone laminectomy and fusion. In their review of the laminectomy literature the authors could not confirm the occurrence of postlaminectomy membrane causing clinically significant deterioration of neurological function. Postoperative complications differed substantially among series. In only seven articles did the writers quantify the rates of postoperative axial neck pain, noting an incidence between 6 and 60%. In approximately 8% of patients, C-5 nerve root dysfunction developed based on the 12 articles in which this complication was reported.

Conclusions. The literature has yet to support the purported benefits of laminoplasty. Neurological outcome and change in spinal alignment are similar after laminectomy and laminoplasty. Patients treated with laminoplasty develop progressive limitation of cervical ROM similar to that seen after laminectomy and fusion.

Article Information

Address reprint requests to: Paul R. Cooper, M.D., Department of Neurosurgery, New York University School of Medicine, 550 First Avenue, New York, New York 10016. email: paul.cooper@med.nyu.edu.

© AANS, except where prohibited by US copyright law.

Headings

Figures

  • View in gallery

    The original laminoplasty technique. The spinous processes are removed (A) and the lamina then thinned (B). Troughs are drilled laterally (C) and finally a Z-shaped cut is made between the adjacent thinned lamina (D). Here, the laminae are secured in an open position by using suture.

  • View in gallery

    Hirabayashi-type laminoplasty. The spinous processes are removed (A), and bilateral troughs created at the facet—lamina junctions (B). A thin rim of bone is left on one side (C). The laminae are elevated and, in this modification, secured to the facet by using sutures (D).

  • View in gallery

    Kurokawa-type laminoplasty. A: The spinous processes are split using a high-speed drill or T-saw. B: Troughs are drilled into the lateral aspects of the laminae and medial facets. C: The spinous processes are split in the midline. D: In the Tomita and Morimoto modifications, bone graft is used as a spacer.

  • View in gallery

    Hardware-augmented laminoplasty. A–D: The techniques are similar to the Hirabayashi-type laminoplasty. In the final step, as described by Shaffrey, et al., titanium miniplates are placed to secure the elevated laminae and hold the bone graft in place.

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